Poems by Mahendar Mahi

Pic by Alleksana


Translated from Malayalam by Ra Sh


You won’t know me

Like you won’t know a kiss
without even a single lip
to receive it,
like you have never seen a bridge
that began from a pillar
and ended in nothingness,
like you have never heard a sound
that lay thick in the atmosphere
unaccepted by a single ear,
none of you
will ever
know me.

You will not recognize
the nothingness that you find
when looking back
at a shadowy motion or
a call from behind or
a touch of breath on the nape.

That’s me.



One day,
the way the border ridges collapse
in the rain of arrows,
your whatsapp groups may merge.
The morning wish you sent to the family-group
may be seen by an old lover girl,
who kicked your ass before leaving you-
she may send a livid message in red
from a number yet to be deleted.

That’s tolerable!

But, grown up clips from your
old school groups named BUDDIES
may come floating to land
in your OFFICIAL group.
Poached FORWARDS from
may spill over to the
Untimely misogynistic jokes from
DAREDEVILS group may throw mud on
the innocence of MY VILLAGE group.

Your first heartfelt kiss to your lover
calling her ‘Oh my heart’ may wrongly
peck at your life partner
who may be knocked unconscious.
Like the deluge licking up with
its menacing tongues
the boundaries of your home,
a deluge may flood your
secret groups too.

Flowers and fruits
reptiles and centepedes
scorpions and wild birds
may lose their nests
and spread to the surroundings
breaking the glass display of your phone.

In the sudden upsurge of the
uncontrollable light,
your secret night
will reveal itself as in day time.
The whirlpool of sighs
that was locked within without air flow
may vanish blowing away the roof.

One day, in a terrifying cloudburst,
love and lust
affection and ticklings
friendships and desires
which you had carefully grown
within demarcated boundaries
may fuse to form a monolith.

Like how all the spice mixtures
you had ground and kept safe
on the shelf blend to form a
state of flavourless dishes,
unable to catch a breath to lament
that the boundaries are feeble,
you may, one day, be frozen
in a glass chamber.


Black march

Once, in a so and so town, a kid began
to sketch a crow on a graphite slate
his dad bought for him.
As he could not sketch properly its one leg,
he began to cry.
He wanted to wipe it off and draw another
perfect crow.
He was alone in the house because his dad
and mom were away at work.
As he did not possess the technical know-how
of how to wipe it with water, the one-legged
crow on the slate grew sad at his plight.
The kid’s tears were enough to wipe it clean.
But he did not let them drop on the slate.
The town did not have any idea of the
silverbush plant that could be used to wipe slates clean.
The one-legged crow could not suppress
his sorrow and flew away from the slate.
The kid was happy seeing a clean slate.
He wiped his tears off.
Then sketched a perfect parrot.

The lame crow thought – what if I have to
live a miserable life, at least I saw the kid
Still, its eyes brimmed over with tears.
In the middle of the black street in the centre
of the town, a march organised itself.
Leading from the front, the lame crow kept
raising caw caw slogans like the captain of the march.
Behind him came a black black parrot
the kid had drawn on the black black slate, followed
by a black elephant, a black horse, a black rooster.
Behind all marched a black black forest
that thought how fortunate it was that
the town did not have a silverbush plant
to wipe the slate clean.


About the Author


Mahendar from Palakkad District in Kerala is a Physics teacher. Has published two collections of poetry – Bhoomi oru jeeviyaanu (The Earth is an organism), Monsoon Festival and a novel Thambrachi ( Mate/Life ) co-authored with C. Ganesh.



About the Translator

Ravi Shanker (aka Ra Sh) is a poet and translator based in Palakkad, Kerala. He has published four collections of poetry, Architecture of Flesh (Poetrywala), Bullet Train and Other Loaded Poems (Hawakal), Kintsugi by Hadni (RLFPA) and In the Mirror, Our Graves, a chapbook with Ritamvara Bhattacharya.  Ravi Shanker is also a translator whose English translations include Mother Forest (Women Unlimited), Waking is Another Dream (Navayana), Don’t Want Caste (Navayana), Kochiites (Greenex), How to Translate an Earthworm (Dhauli Books) and The Ichi Tree Monkey and new and selected stories of Bama (Speaking Tiger).